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The study was conducted to investigate spelling errors among secondary school students and effects on their performance in Uyo Local Government Area. Three research objectives and three research questions were stated to guide the study. The survey research design was adopted in the study. The population for the study comprises one thousand (1000) SS II students in 2021/2022 academic session in in selected secondary schools in Uyo Local Government Area.

A sample size of one hundred (100) SS II students in selected secondary schools through random sampling technique. The instruments used for data collection in this study were a researcher made questionnaire titled causes of spelling error among student (CSES) and a dictation test titled “English Language Spelling Test (ELST)”. The method used in analyzing the data collected was simple percentages. Findings showed that the students have spellings problems.

The findings also showed that the causes of   spelling problems among students in secondary schools are: students’ lackadaisical attitude; lack of spelling textbooks; misplacement of letters dyslexia (reading disorder); and lack of teaching of spelling as a course. Also, the findings showed that: teaching students to know patterns and rules of spellings; getting students involved in spelling exercise enable students to learn how to spell help in building new words; helping students to recall previous learnt words and effective and continuous use of dictionary help students to improve their performance in English spelling. On the basis of the findings, it was recommended that the students should be taught patterns and rules of spellings in their English language classes.



1.1 Background to the Study

Language is the mirror that reveals what is going on in the human mind. It is the audible behavior, which distinguishes man from other living things (Yule, 2006). Language is an acquired habit of systematic vocal and non-vocal activities representing meanings coming from human experience. People use spoken and written language in addition to other means of paralinguistic communication. English language is far from the ideal writing system, as anyone with spelling difficulties is well aware.

 Learning a second language is often challenging for learners as their native language has language rules according to which they pronounce and spell words. A second language has its own patterns which are different from the native language. These create problems for learners as the patterns of their mother tongue become part of their linguistic instinct, which they attempt to apply to the second language (Nor & Rashid, 2018).

In order to learn any other language, the learner’s linguistic instinct has to undergo various modifications to accommodate the understanding of the second language (Kocatepe, 2017; Zuriyani & Ismail, 2019). During the process of learning, the speaker hears sounds different to those she/he instinctively knows and has to form hypotheses about their use. Learners of a second language can have implicit knowledge about the orthographic structure of the target language insofar as they may be able to pronounce or spell a word in their second language without having explicit knowledge of the particular rule they are using.

According to the alphabetic principle, spelling originated as transcriptions of the sounds of spoken language. Spellings remain largely reflective of the sounds, although fully phonemic spelling is an ideal that most languages’ orthographies only approximate, some more closely than others.

This is true for various reasons, including that pronunciation changes over time in all languages, yet spellings as visual norms may resist change. In addition, words from other languages may be adopted without being adapted to the spelling system and different meanings of a word or homophones may be deliberately spelled in different ways to differentiate them visually (Kukich, 2019).

In the same vein, Bari (2018) asserted that spelling is the process of representing the spoken language in a written form that consists of a sequence of letters composed to form words in their generally accepted usage. It encompasses several skills: phonological, morphological, syntax, and semantic knowledge, as well as the ability to formulate words based on visual memory along with applying the orthographic rules. Spelling is a linguistic method that deals with phonemic orthography (Ahmed, 2017).

In other words, spelling is the process of word-formation by representing the oral language by using the conventional, accepted individual letters according to the rules of that particular language. Spelling is the act of recognizing or mimicking oral or spoken words by the equivalent correct sequence of letters taking into consideration phonological and alphabetical skills and knowledge.

Furthermore, spelling is considered an essential component of written language. The potential mistakes in spellings may change the meaning and understanding of written material and would make it unclear. Hence, it is essential to use the correct spelling of words in order to convey the exact intended meaning of the content. In this context, Babayiğit and Stainthorp (2010) state that grammatical and phonological skills make a significant contribution to spelling performance. Therefore, it can be asserted that spellings play a pivotal role in being a primary and essential skill required by students. Accurate spelling enables writers to express their ideas and thoughts within a standard framework, which is easily understandable by their readers. For effective writing, spelling must also be effective.

 Al-Bereiki and Al-Mekhlafi (2015) observed that students are faced with common error related to the spelling of words in documents due to ineffective learning, they continue to repeat the same spelling errors, even after they have completed high school and university education. Some even transfer the spellings error to their field of work, which can create obstacles to their progress and development.

Consequently, spelling errors can handicap students in various ways. According to Rosenthal and Ehri (2010), spelling out loud practice increases the pace of learning the pronunciation of new words which aid an individual to communicate his/her thoughts more clearly and openly in their writing. Poor spelling not only makes a bad impression; it also inhibits communication as the reader has to puzzle over the writer’s message. It is on this background that this research work seeks to examine spelling errors among secondary school students and effects on their performance in Uyo Local Government Area.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

It has been observed that the rate of student’s failure in the test and examination in English language and other subjects in secondary schools in Uyo Local Government is on the high side. This poor performance had led to complaint by both parents, school administrators, educational policy makers and students. With a kin interest to find out what could have caused this mass failure questions like; could it be that the course teachers do not set what they taught the students? In the process of trying to find out, it’s observed that so many students hardly spelt words correctly to construct teacher’s notes that anyone can read and have a full meaning of the topics that the teachers taught them in the classroom.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to examine spelling errors among secondary school students and effects on their performance in Uyo Local Government Area.

The specific objectives are:

  1. Analyze the different spelling errors among secondary school students in Uyo Local Government Area.
  2. Find the causes(s) of spelling errors among secondary school students in Uyo Local Government Area.
  3. Provides recommendations to help students overcome spelling errors and mistakes.

1.4 Research Questions

In line with the topic, this research work seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the different spelling errors that constitute the problematic areas among secondary school students in Uyo Local Government Area?
  2. What are the causes(s) of spelling errors among secondary school students in Uyo Local Government Area?
  3. Are there ways that could help students to improve their performance in English spelling?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study will be significant in the following ways:

  1. The study will highlight ways and means of tackling the problem of spelling errors among Nigerian secondary school students.
  2. The findings of this report will provide useful information to students, teachers, and curriculum planners on the problems associated with spelling.
  3. This report will be a guide on how to plan an effective spelling programme for our secondary school students.
  4. The findings of this work will be generally useful to everybody since spelling errors is not limited to students alone

1.6 Delimitation of the Study

The study will be delimited to spelling errors among secondary school students and effects on their performance in Uyo Local Government Area. It will be limited to SS 2 students in secondary schools in Uyo Local Government Area.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

Some of the challenges encountered while conducting the research include lack of sufficient funds and short duration assigned for the study.

1.8 Definition of Terms

The following operational terms were defined and used for the study:

Spelling: Spelling is a set of conventions that regulate the way of using graphemes (writing system) to represent a language in its written form. In other words, spelling is the rendering of speech sound (phoneme) into writing (grapheme). Spelling is one of the elements of orthography, and highly standardized spelling is a prescriptive element (Coulmas, 1996).

Spelling Errors: Spelling errors refer to when a learner consistently makes the same misspellings over and over again, because they do not know what is correct.

Spelling Mistakes: Spelling mistakes is when a learner only occasionally misspells a word which he or she spells correctly.

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